More than 200 students received degrees at the College of Charleston winter commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. President Andrew T. Hsu said this group of students was “an uncommon class for uncommon times.” He said the pandemic experience made them more resilient and set them apart from other generations of students: “Your resilience is what the world needs now more than ever.”

John H. Rashford, professor emeritus of anthropology, was the commencement speaker. Rashford retired from the College in 2018 after 36 years of teaching. Lilliana “Lilli” M. Taylor, Student Government Association president, spoke at the ceremony. Taylor is a senior in the Honors College majoring in public health and minoring in music and medical humanities. She is the first Asian American SGA president in College of Charleston history.

During his commencement address, Rashford spoke to students about taking responsibility of their futures.

John Rashford speaks to graduating students

“As part of your desired future, take action on the issues that you care deeply about, which are also the issues that define you. Make a difference. Let the future you envision for yourself be part of the change you would like to see in making the world a better place,” he said. “I have no doubt that you will be a better person, and our world a better place, because of the knowledge, skills and values you have acquired here at the College of Charleston.”

Rashford also urged students to celebrate their success: “Enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing that you have done your very best, and that you will continue to celebrate the many moments of success that often comes with having done your very best.”

Taylor reminded graduates of the many late night study sessions and ambitious projects in the not so distant past.

“As you leave behind the familiar Spanish moss and uneven bricks of campus, remember how your education has taught you to adapt, be resilient and contribute meaningfully to society,” she said, and ended her address by congratulating classmates and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.